Saturday, 23 February 2013

Fishermen Village, Samutsakhon, Near Bangkok

This was a second time we surveyed the route for the Fishermen Community Tour. We took the train from Baan Laem to Mae Klong (Traing market). On the way, we saw the salt farm field. 

We were eager to see how the fishermen worked. At Mahaachai port (Samut sakhorn province), or for Thai people we called it Saphaan -pla (Fish Bridge). It was 5 AM. in the morning that the fishing boat, arrived to the port. Fishermen laid down the small iron bridge. Later, they slided the fish baskets down from the boat.

Inside the basket, the mackerel fish was contained. Thai Gulf Bay is the source of these mackerel fish.

 The mackerel fish is used in many of Thai dishes. The famous one is called "Naam Prik Plaa Thuu". It is the mackerel with Kapi chilli paste. From the picture, the fishermen sorted the fish's size.

Another Fish port, Amphawan. We have got the permission to go inside and take a picture of the fish port and the activities around the port. The fishing boat here came with the bigger size. From the picture, fishermen were helping each other to spread the trawl in order to remove the fish.

The method of loading the fish to the port is the same. The iron bridge and the fish basket!

Later of that morning, we continued to the Fishermen community at Bang kra chaw village, Samut Sakhorn.
The picture showed the mangrove forest. People in this village, lived their lives based on the fishing, searching for clam shells, oyster, angel's wing, small crabs, 

From the picture, a villager show us the fishing tool.

She introduced us to the mangrove forest nearby. The nature is 100%. In this mangrove, you can see, crab, clamshells, and mudskippers or in Thai we called it "Plaa-Tiin" which means the fish with legs.

An activity of the Fishermen villager is to fix the boat and paint.

Later on we walked deeper to the village. We found one big shrine. We learnt that this shrine is called " Pae-Kong Shrine" The villagers believed that the Pe-Kong god, protects them from the harm and dangers when they go out to the sea. We were highly requested to visit and pay the respect to the Pe-Kong god, before we could enter their village.

Inside the village, we saw that the ground was almost everywhere covered with the big blue net. We were told that it was for drying the Koey Shrimp. A main ingredient for Thai Shrimp Paste.
Also it is easier to walk on this blue net. The floor can be slippery ,muddy and rocky. So the villager thought that if they covered the ground everywhere with these net. It was 2 ways benefit.

The view of the village, some live in the wooden house and some live in side the hay hut! 
To us, this was very exotic!

An old lady has been living in this village for all her life. She earned her living by searching for the oysters, and opening the shell, cleaning them and then selling them to the small retailer.

When we continued exploring this village, we met a lady who was knitting the trawl for the fishing boat. The pile of the trawl you see in the picture is purely handmade. 

We passed another house, this house sells dried fish. Thai people used dried fish in many Thai dishes.

This Fishermen village, is completely unknown by the tourists nor the local. I was so excited when I found them. This was really the first I visited the fishermen village that are still raw and non tourist attraction and truly off the beaten paths.

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Saturday, 16 February 2013

Mosques and Muslim community in Minburi, Bangkok

We visited the leader of the Soh man community. 
Khun Peerapong on the left and, Khun Charoen ,on the right  who is the owner of the boat.

Along Khlong San sap, around Minburi and Nong chok. It is the residential area for the Muslim communities. In this area, there are Buddhist temples, Mosques and the Catholic Church. Though there are 3 religious but it is one of the peaceful area. People in this area are doing hard work to keep the canal clean. They are awarded as the best community to keep Khlong Sansap in such a good condition. You can even swim in this canal.

Below picture shows the Mosque Kamalul Islam.
 Almost 200 years ago, Muslim people who resided in this area immigrated from the south of Thailand. Their main career was farmer.  When the King Rama the fifth visited this mosque, the mosque was just a small wooden house. There was the big pile of sand on the ground.  The king asked "what this pile of sand is for?" The local answered that it was meant for the building of the mosque.
Since then, The king has given the name to this mosque as “sulao saai gong din”. Sulao means mosque in Thai. Saai means sand. Gong din means piling on the ground. Altogether, directly translated as the mosque that has the big pile of sand on the ground.

There are about 2000 families in this community which accounted about 20000 people.

Baan koh mosque is one of the biggest dome mosque in Thailand. Every weekend at this mosque, there is the Baan koh floating market. There are Muslim restaurants, local Muslim goods and services. Sometimes they have the performance show on the stage by the little Muslim students.

Muslim women group prepared and sold the famous ROTI!
Roti is a kind of Muslim snack. It is the flour fried with butter and topping it with condensed milk and sugar. Sometimes, you can add banana or egg if you like.

Friday, 15 February 2013

The Eastern Venice tour, Khlong Sansap canal

Khlong San Sap canal

Today, off the beaten paths traveling in Bangkok. We got on the boat and float along the Khlong San sap canal.
There are 3 stories behind the name of this canal,
  1. According to the British explorer, this canal was full of mosquitoes, whenever the locals went they had to always use one hand to wave and push away the mosquitoes. San sap means painful. That was why this canal is called the painful canal.
  2. San-sap is the borrowed words from Khmer language.In the old days Thai people call sea as “See or Saee”, and fresh water is called “ Saab”. So canal is similar to fresh water sea to the local in those days so they called is See-Saab, and by times passed, it turned out to be "San sap"
  3. or Another story, San-sap, may be distorted from the Malaya language called “San-Yap”. It is the calling name by the Muslim community means peaceful due to the slow water stream.
Khlong san-sap was a man made dug canal built in 1837. The purpose was to have its canal joint with the chao phraya river and the Bang pakong river. Before, it was used as the strategic military supply waterway route to Vietnam.
Because San-sap is one of the main canal for the transportation between Chaoprayaa and Baangpakong. Therefore, there are many khlong sois that were dug as well.

Pictures below show the life along the Khlong San sap canal.

Gin or trawl, Thai folk wisdom fishing equipment. Seen along the Khlong San sap canal.

Old style wooden bridge since 200 years ago.

We stopped by at Khuu market. Khuu means bended and not straight. This market was called according to the shape of the canal. In the old days, Khuu market was very crowded. People pull the trolley along this market. Rice, fruits, vegetables were traded here. The market ran whole night long. Nowadays, there are only Traditional Thai pharmacy shop that is still running, couple of grocery stores. Others are closing down or stopping the business as the business owners get older.

A traditional Thai pharmacy shop. The owner of this pharmacy is the father of the lady in the picture. he is currently hold the age of 104 years old.

On the Khuu market, we met a group of the muslim kids dressing in the colorful traditional long pants style.

Usually, Sansap canal is very well known for poor water quality. However, the community in this area was awarded as the best community who take good care of Khlong Sansap.  You may not believe but here is the proof. A practicing pool for the school kids. The water in the pool is from the Khlong Sansap canal.

Now the boat was turning to small Khlong soi. We were riding toward the villager's plantation and goat farm.

 The Muslims in this area are doing the agriculture and practice the concept of self sufficient economy. The plantation in this area is organic. There are Banana, mango, organic vegetables etc...Also there is the goat farm as well.

At the end of the canal, situated Baan koh mosque, it is the biggest dome mosque in Thailand.

Baan koh mosque bridge to the organic plantation.

A Muslim plantation owner, showed us how to use phaa khaw maa in many different ways and purposes. You can use this cloth to protect your head from the sun, for the waist belt and over the shoulder to carry the meal or any items.

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